After a chaotic overtime restart, Grant Enfinger took the lead on four fresh tires and quickly drew away to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff opener on Friday night at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Enfinger defeated Ben Rhodes by 0.477s to take first place in the series’ first visit to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park since 2011. On the last lap, Rhodes overtook Smith to claim second place.
Enfinger prevailed in the TSport 200 on Friday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park despite a tumultuous finish, winning his first race of 2022 and the first NASCAR national series race there since 2011. After crew chief Jeff Hensley decided to switch out four tires, several late wrecks also gave Enfinger time to advance up the field. With newer tires than his competitors and ample respite from the cautions, Enfinger passed regular season champion Zane Smith on the last lap.
Zane Smith and John Hunter Nemechek fought for the lead before Enfinger, who started second on the inside row, forced the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet past them.
Enfinger won his first series race since 2020 and ninth overall. With the win, he qualified for the Round of 8. Following a disappointing regular season for his GMS Racing squad and a meeting with seasoned crew chief Jeff Hensley prior to the July 9 race at Mid-Ohio, Enfinger earned automatic progress to the second round of the Playoffs with his first victory since 2020 and eighth of his career.
“We’ve just been off a little bit as an organization,” Enfinger said. “We’ve been working so hard because we’ve been sucking. It hurts to say it, but we’ve had a terrible season to this point, but we had a great Chevrolet all day.
“It felt like every time we got into the lead, a caution came out, and it put Hensley in a bad spot. I knew from experience to just trust his gut.”
Third place went to Zane Smith in a finish that was not without controversy. Smith, who was the top seed going into the race for the Playoffs, had earlier in the race pushed Chandler Smith into the outside wall, causing both trucks to sustain damage.
When Lawless Allen and Chase Purdy were involved in a three-truck accident, Zane Smith also suffered damage. However, he brought his No. 38 Ford to pit road for new tires on lap 156 and made up ground over the last 40 laps.
Stewart Friesen, a playoff driver, came in fourth place behind Zane Smith, ahead of Corey Heim, Tyler Ankrum, and Layne Riggs who rounded out the top five. Ty Majeski, Matt Crafton, and Nemechek, all playoff drivers, rounded out the top 10.
Crafton and Christian Eckes, who placed 16th, were seven points under the current cut line as a result of those results. The field of eight drivers for the Playoffs will be reduced from ten after the third race of the first round. Hocevar is seven points ahead of where he should be in seventh place.